Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda broke one of the most daunting world records in track and field on Friday, running 12:35.36 for 5,000 meters in Monaco. Kenesisa Bekele’s long-standing world record was 12:37.35, set in 2004.
Cheptegei put on a metronomic performance, barely wavering from his 60-second-per-400-meter-lap average for over three miles. He ran 59.97 and 59.64 for his last two laps. His previous best was 12:57, set last year, but despite needing to cut 20 seconds from that, he said all summer that he was targeting a 5000m world record in Monaco. He did run a world-record 12:51 5K on the roads before the pandemic hit.
Cheptegei, 23, first burst onto the scene with a notoriously aggressive performance at the 2017 cross-country world championships, leading for six miles and then completely collapsing in the final mile. He won the 10,000 meters at last year’s world championships.
Because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, it took Cheptegei more than three days to travel from Uganda to Monaco. The East African country’s borders are currently closed, but the president arranged a flight for Cheptegei from Uganda to Kenya, according to a LetsRun report. From there, he flew to Turkey, then waited nearly a day, and then flew to Nice, France, which is the standard last stop before driving to Monaco.
The Diamond League meet was the first major track event held since the coronavirus pandemic, and had thousands of fans staggered throughout the Monaco stadium.
Monaco has a notoriously fast track, with world records coming there each of the last two years.
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